While chatting with OnAir chief Benoit Debains this morning, I got the sense that our friendly Frenchman isn’t overly concerned that OnAir and Ryanair have parted ways.
“It has been a long time now [that] OnAir has not been depending on Ryanair. I wish we kept Ryanair as a customer but the fact is [we] decided to terminate the deal and, without Ryanair, we remain the market leader [for in-flight mobile connectivity],” says Debains.
Indeed, OnAir may be lucky to be rid of the Irish low-cost carrier.
One source says OnAir provided onboard GSM equipment free of cost (FOC) to Ryanair and handed the carrier 5% of the revenue on the first 50 aircraft equipped with OnAir mobile connectivity.
Ryanair wanted a considerable number of additional FOC shipsets to further the programme, but OnAir wouldn’t play ball, says the source.
Another source says simply that Ryanair wanted everything but didn’t want to pay for it.
And Tim Farrar’s latest blog says there was virtually “all upside for Ryanair (bar the cost of flying the equipment around), but financially disastrous for OnAir when revenues come in at a small fraction of the ERU550K per plane per year that was originally predicted by the two companies”.
This has not been confirmed by either party, and Debains cannot talk about the specifics of OnAir’s deal with Ryanair. He does inform me, however, that I’m regularly wrong about things (gee thanks! .
Debains stresses that OnAir “is much more than just Ryanair” and well-positioned in the market with multiple deals for equipage. Oman recently launched OnAir’s mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity, for example, and OnAir has been racking up the deals in the Middle East, outside of AeroMobile’s customer Emirates.
Unlike the early days, when OnAir’s founding fathers largely focused on the short-range European market – which provides very few RFPs these days – OnAir has “evolved” to include 10 business units, among them the long-range market, the Airbus A380 (special because it’s such a big beast), VIP and maritime, notes Debains.
“As I speak, I am highly confident that we have secured deals in every one of the business segments,” he says.
OnAir has “six airlines flying today, and by the end of the year we’ll have 12 flying”, he says, adding that OnAir also yesterday signed another VIP deal.
In short, says Debains: “We are alive and kicking.”
Alive and kicking Ryanair to the curb, it would seem.
Cue the song “Alive” from the album “Satellite”.
(Photo at the top from HoggHeff photo stream on Flickr)